Audio Drama Awards 2018: thematically diverse Imison & Tinniswood shortlists announced

We've announced the shortlists for this year’s Imison Award (for best original audio drama script by a writer new to the medium) and Tinniswood Award (for best original audio drama script of the year).

Topics tackled by a thematically diverse array of scripts include colonialism, Jewish divorce and a chilling vision of a near future Britain.

The awards will be presented by Philip Pullman at the BBC Audio Drama Awards on 28 January.

The Imison Award shortlist

The Imison Award is presented annually and honours the best original script, by a writer new to radio, which was broadcast in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 31 October 2017. The £3,000 prize is sponsored by The Peggy Ramsay Foundation. This year’s judges are Stefan Buczacki, Jamila Gavin, Isla Gray, Catherine Johnson, Christopher William Hill, Nell Leyshon, David Morley, Hilary Robinson, Mike Walker and Elizabeth-Anne Wheal.

The Book of Yehudit by Adam Usden

Produced by Charlotte Riches, BBC Radio Drama Salford, 45 minutes, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: ‘A strikingly compelling story of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish couple in their close-knit community and the binds that tie them together. Tightly observed, it offers unique insight and adeptly explores modern gender politics both extremely current and universally relevant.

Adam Usden is a 29-year-old writer from Manchester. His first play, Steve And Then It Ended, premiered at Theatre 503 and was one of Lyn Gardner’s Tips of the Week. He has been commissioned by the World Heritage Society, the National Trust and Specifiq for several site-specific promenade plays. He is a graduate of the Royal Court Studio Group and Traverse 50, and has previously been shortlisted for the following awards: PapaTango Prize, 503, Yale Drama and the Channel 4/Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award. His latest Afternoon Drama, Sophie’s Lights, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2017.

Wide Open Spaces by Jane Wainwright

Produced by Charlotte Riches, BBC Radio Drama Salford, 45 minutes, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: ‘A moving play, written with an intriguing set up, a good ear for dialogue, and an understanding of how to use the power of radio. Jane dealt confidently with both mental illness and the loss of a baby, with depth and clarity.’

Jane Wainwright was a member of the Royal Court Young Writers, Invitation group, ‘Supergroup’ and was 'fostered' by’s Adopt A Playwright Award. Her theatre writing includes:  JinnyChildhood Memories; Concrete SupernovaLeftovers; How I Skinned My SisterA Bite of the AppleA Guide to Removing Corpse StainsLife MouldThe Taste of Us or Pinocchio Gets Laid ; the 2012 runner up of the PapaTango prize Photos of You Sleeping (Runner up – 2012 PapaTango Prize; Barrow Hill; and Pet's Corner. Her TV writing includes Hollyoaks and City Larvae. She has been part of the Writers Academy Story Workshop, BBC Playwright’s Scheme and the CBBC New Voices Scheme.

Listen to excerpts from the Imison 2018 shortlist

The Tinniswood Award shortlist

The Tinniswood Award is presented annually to the best original audio drama script. The £3,000 prize is sponsored by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society. This year’s judges are Hardeep Singh Kohli, Colin Teevan and Jane Thynne.

Jenny Lomas by David Eldridge

Directed by Sally Avens, BBC Radio Drama, 95 minutes, BBC Radio 3

The judges said: ‘This is an excellently crafted, timely and grippingly suspenseful play touching on themes of real and virtual stalking and security, identity theft, data harvesting and manipulation. Such is Eldridge's masterly use of the radiophonic and dramatic form whilst maintaining tight focus on the central character, the play never loses sight of the broader political, social and legal implications either for her or the listener. A thought provoking, grown-up drama.’

David Eldridge is widely regarded as one of the prominent playwriting voices of his generation, whose productions have premiered across the UK at venues including The National, The Royal Court, The Royal Exchange and The Donmar.  His play Beginning premiered at The Dorfman Theatre and transfers to the West End’s Ambassadors Theatre on 15 January. Television credits include The Scandalous Lady W and Our Hidden Lives. Radio credits including the Prix Europa award-winning The Picture Man.

John Finnemore’s Double Acts – Penguin Diplomacy by John Finnemore

Produced by David Tyler, Pozzitive, 30 minutes, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: ‘This is a perfectly formed piece of comic dramatic writing. While the play functions as a gentle satire on, and reductio ad absurdum of the aspirations of empire and colonialism, it never loses sight of the humanity of those minions who must service such a grasping cause. Much of the humour of the piece derives from reading the personal sentiments between the lines of the official declarations. What emerges is the warmth of human friendship in contrast to the coldest of colonial and climatic environments.’

John Finnemore is a writer, comedian and actor. He is the sole writer and star of sketch-show John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, now in its seventh series, and wrote and starred in four series of hit sitcom Cabin Pressure. Between them, Cabin Pressure, Souvenir Programme and Double Acts, have won Writers’ Guild, New York Radio, British Comedy Guide, Radio Academy, BBC Audio Drama and Chortle awards. John was awarded Radio Broadcaster of the Year by the Broadcasting Press Guild in 2016.

Borderland by Sarah Woods

Directed by James Robinson, BBC Cymru Wales, 45 minutes, BBC Radio 4

The judges said: ‘This was a dark and original dystopia that took an inspired perspective on issues of migration and identity. Set in the near future, the current situation is reversed, and refugees are desperate to escape the UK. In their attempt to cross the border and navigate a passage over the Irish Sea, Layla and her daughter are pursued by the chilling forces of state security. This was an absorbing thriller, with Orwellian echoes, that had the judges gripped.’

Sarah Woods works in collaboration with scientists, charities and campaigners to communicate current issues through innovative drama. For BBC Radio, she has written over thirty plays, series, adaptations and drama-documentaries. Over the last few years, her work for Radio 4 includes Watch Me, The State of Water, My Life with Flu, and A Speck of Dust. She is currently dramatising Karl Marx Das Kapital.

Listen to excerpts from the Tinniswood 2018 shortlist